Netflix has entered into a multiyear overall deal with producer, director and choreographer Kenny Ortega, best known for directing Disney’s High School Musical franchise.
Netflix is also fast-tracking Ortega’s first two projects, Auntie Claus (working title), a musical film, and Julie and the Phantoms, an original series, which he will also executive produce. Truman Alfaro will serve as Ortega’s development executive.
Based on Elise Primavera’s eponymous book series, Auntie Claus (w/t) will follow a young girl as she tries to figure out why her Christmas-obsessed aunt disappears each time the holiday rolls around. It will be adapted by Tiffany Paulsen (Holidate, Nancy Drew). Musical comedy series Julie and the Phantoms, meanwhile, is based on an Emmy-nominated Brazilian series and tells the story of a teenage girl whose bandmates help her find her passion for music; the twist is they’ve been dead for 25 years. Dan Cross and David Hoge (The Thundermans, Pair of Kings) will serve as showrunners.
In addition to the High School Musical franchise, Ortega has directed and choreographed several well-known titles, including the Descendants trilogy, Newsies and Hocus Pocus, and choreographed classic films including Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty in Pink, among others.
Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said: “Throughout the course of his career, Kenny Ortega has inspired generations of artists and audiences alike. That he has chosen to make Netflix his creative home to work on both feature films and series is thrilling. We can’t wait to see what he brings to Netflix to delight musical-loving families and audiences around the globe.”
Ortega added: “As a fan of Netflix and their dynamic range of high-quality content, I am thrilled to begin a creative relationship with the company. I’m super excited about the projects we already have in development and the shared enthusiasm I feel from the company. l look forward to this new Netflix collaboration with the highest hopes.”